While it’s been a relatively normal (and better than expected) adjustment period in life outside the United States, there has been a deluge of new ideas, actions, and people that I’ve encountered, causing me already to rethink the way I perceive normalcy.
Even though I’ve been fortunate enough to travel extensively through many mediums, I had never been in a 1982 Toyota Corolla with 6 other people looking at a 2 inch wide gash in the floorboard as the pavement rushes under.
I’ve walked through Alphabet City and Brooklyn in NY, NY, lived close to Roxbury in Boston, but never seen a barrio or the true effects of poverty or fatherless families on mothers. I’ve ignored and brushed off children selling chiclets gum in Cancún and Cabo San Lucas, and never before found out that some are out there while their parents sit at home injured, out of work, or relaxing.
I’ve heard, seen, and even occasionally contributed to the objectification of women, but never been so much out of place where married men openly seek out extra-marital encounters, a girl or woman can’t walk down the street without being “tsch tsch”-ed at or get on a bus or in a car without a few hands ‘helping’ her.
To be fair, I’m still at the point where I have to reserve judgment, I haven’t lived here long enough to ‘grok‘ the place (Stranger in a Strange Land reference). I am still doing my best to live with the lens of my own background unattached.
Living in another country provides many more avenues of understanding another culture than passing through, and the longer you stay, the more you develop the willing attitude to acclimate. While it’s easy to note the drastic differences, one also has to remain aware or the many overriding similarities which make completely different worlds compatible with eachother. In the end, I hope that the commonalities remind more travelers that we’re all on this speck of dirt together and just as naïve and intelligent as the next. As I think of specific subjects, I’m going to try to address some of the more visible aspects of living here in la República Dominicana and how I’m coping, enjoying, bearing, and relishing the differences.
To start: Religion, gender, (youth in) poverty, workplace, climate, schedule, travel….
*Written on a bus earlier today*
Reading: Travesía (finished The Stranger)
Listening: Good News for People Who Love Bad News,Modest Mouse (Top 3 favorite)
Learning: I’ll Be Here A While, Learning to Fly, Take Me to the River, Green Eyes